LAHORE – SALMAN ABDUHU  - The business community Friday welcomed the Lahore High Court’s decision on Kalabagh Dam and termed it inevitable because of an acute shortage of energy, fast depleting irrigation water resources and frequent occurrence of floods in Indus basin.

LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the LHC verdict has given a new lease of life to people that are suffering because of multiple reasons including non-availability of electricity. He said that the federal government should implement the verdict to save arable lands from turning barren and useless. Only because of government silence over Kalabagh dam, country is suffering a loss of Rs132 billion annually.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry regional chairman Sheikh Abdul Waheed Sandal highly appreciated the court order and asserted that Dam is most important for development. KBD is in interest of all provinces. Stories about its negative affects for Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh are technically wrongs however government should create consensus on this project of national interest.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan former central chairman Javed Islam Agha said that it was very unfortunate that the decision makers in this country had nothing to lose rather they continue to enjoy all perks under the sky even if they make a wrong decision, it the masses who suffer. Same is happening today, there is no electricity but politicians and top bureaucrats all are getting it free of cost.

He said the existing dams are constantly silting up leaving ever-decreasing capacity to store water. The construction of Kalabagh dam along with other new dams is desperately needed to store adequate water, as 30 million acre feet of water is being wasted into the sea because the country has no big water reservoirs to store it.

Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, Chairman AKD Group observed that judicial order is unlikely to be implemented by the present or any future government considering the mayhem and chaos that even talk to construct the dam would generate.

The LHC order is perfectly according to the Constitution, but is non-implementable because the project has unfortunately been made a political football since long, and no political administration will dare sail in troubled waters. The court order is not going to make any difference in the policy of the present and future administrations as they lack guts to accept the challenge.

LCCI former SVP and ex-chairman of Pakistan Poultry Association Abdul Basit said that Kalabagh Dam was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as would be irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built. He said the other alternative is to pump the water that is very costly. He said that unlike Pakistan, India is constructing dams at every possible site. More importantly, losses of recent floods in Pakistan which are estimated to be more than $45 billion could have been reduced if big dams and water reservoirs were in place.

All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association chairman Aizaz Mansoor Sheikh said that creditable studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs5000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs400 per acre per year. He said that a further delay in gathering a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of unduly politicised Kalabagh Dam will cost this country very dearly.

All Pakistan Business Forum chairman and former chief of Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers Nabeel Hashmi said that all the stakeholders should show some greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh dam. It is high time that all baseless reservations should be brushed aside to save the country from that era of darkness. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources is costing too much causing to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in national and international markets.

Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) Chairman Engineer Sohail Lashari termed the decision a milestone for the economic revival of the country. He said that the government should immediately start work on this mega project of national importance in the light of recommendations of the Council of Common Interests.